In this tutorial we will be taking a look at masking and how you can give your work a sense of depth using this technique, as well as layering textures and elements to help lift your piece – in this case using paper to create rock and mountain-like elements.

This tutorial is an example of how a few simple techniques can be used to create more elaborate illustrations using multiple layers, masking, the Pen tool, some basic lighting and one simple texture. Using the processes here, you will be able to apply the same techniques to your work, hopefully giving you the confidence to use masks and create your own textures to give greater scope to your work.

For this masterclass you’ll need a headshot of a model. Max Spencer has used a shot by Pasi Lehtinen ( You’ll also need access to a digital camera and some paper, though we’ve included Max’s photos of scrunched-up tissue paper on the Download Zone.

Step 1 To create a textured background element for this piece, I’ve simply scrunched up some tissue paper into
a ball: this is a good way of using up old pieces of paper lying around. Some great effects can be achieved using paper that already has images or scribbles on.

Step 2 Import your paper texture to Photoshop. Desaturate the image using Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U. Change the contrast if you feel your texture needs it. Now invert the texture by pressing Cmd + I. Once you’re satisfied, select the Pen tool (P) and trace around the paper ball.

Step 3 Once you have finished tracing the paper ball, select the Marquee tool and Cmd/Ctrl + click the outline you’ve created in the Layers palette. This will bring up the outline you created as a selection. Click back on the layer of the image and simply copy (Cmd/Ctrl + C) and paste (Cmd/Ctrl + V) and your paper ball will now be
on a layer of its own.